Open Lecture Series 2021

Experience the cutting edge of teaching and research with talks by experts from Canterbury Christ Church University.

Tuesdays 6.30-7.45pm | April-October 2021

Inspired by our Church of England foundation, Canterbury Christ Church University’s mission is to pursue excellence in higher education: transforming individuals, creating knowledge, enriching communities and building a sustainable future.

It is only since the Education Act of 1870 that most primary-aged children have attended school, and it was not until the Education Act of 1944 was there an expectation that all children, including those from the working class, get free education up to the age of 16 years. Since that time, the class system has dictated the nature and remit of schools, and many would argue that it continues to do so. Drawing on several disciplines across the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education, we warmly invite you to join us as we explore some of the most pressing issues around class, education and social change in 21st Century. The talks will introduce you to some of the great educationalists of our time, offering a “language of critique” of existing power relations and a “language of possibility” for creating a new society through educational and social practice (Giroux, 1985). 

  • The lectures are free, and open to everyone - staff, students and members of the public.
  • To ensure the safety of our guests and speakers and following government guidance, the lectures will be presented online (using web browsers Chrome, Firefox or Safari - not Internet Explorer or Edge) and booking attendance is required (book your attendance using the form below).
  • Each lecture will last for 50 minutes and there will be the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers, which will be answered during a live question and answer session that will take place at the end of the lecture.
  • The lectures will be recorded and made available after the live event takes place.


The lectures take place online on Tuesdays 6.30-7.45pm.

LECTURE 1 - Prof Linden West | April 13

Border Country: Community, democracy, and lifelong education. A dialogue with Raymond Williams. 
We live in distressing times: of pandemic, ecological crisis, authoritarianism and fractiousness. I explore how Raymond Williams might speak to us in our present distress and discontent. Born in 1921, on the border between Wales and England, he was a prolific writer, crossing literal and imaginative borders: rural and urban, literary and historical, fiction and social analysis, political and academic. He sought to understand capitalism and authoritarianism, in various guises, and how communities, democracy and education might flourish. He offers us vibrant resources of hope in a perplexed world.

LECTURE 2 - Dr Ian Jasper | April 27

Raymond William’s ‘Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society’
The motif ‘culture is ordinary’ played a huge part in the development of Raymond Williams’ life work. His examinations of the interplay of ‘ordinary’ and ‘higher’ culture, his studies of ‘media’, his political activity, and his determination to remain culturally linked to his boyhood home of Pandy are themes around which his extraordinary output evolved. Within the wealth of his work the book ‘Keywords’ occupies a special place. Williams believed that by tracing the historical development of key words in the English language it was possible to examine the rifts in the cultural worlds in which they were embedded. The result is much more than an etymological treatise, it is a revelation of the inner life of the words we use. The intention of this lecture is to reveal how this inner life of the lexicon also reveals to us the inner worlds of the people whose words they are.
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LECTURE 3 - Dr David Hitchcock | May 11

The historical development of 'education' as an end to poverty
“There’s only one real politics, and that’s politics on a weekly wage. All the rest, well. We can all talk.”
-- Raymond Williams, Border Country

One of many threads weaving through the astounding and varied scholarship of Raymond Williams was (ideal) community, its formation, and who might be excluded from it. Since at least the advent of Christian humanism, and following Plato, Europeans have considered the central place of education in the formation of ideal communities. This lecture will consider certain strands of the historical development of education as an engine of social mobility, and particularly as an end to poverty. Sometimes, as with utopian literature or radical Enlightenment proposals for the creation of universal citizenries, this impulse to use education as a prime vehicle for radical betterment is obvious. What is less obvious are the hidden uses to which these ideals are put: education as social betterment for whom and to what ends remain urgent questions, and between history and Raymond William's work we can offer some answers.
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LECTURE 4 - Dr Diane Heath | May 25

Medieval Animals: teaching green heritage to support SEND children's emotional engagement.
My focus is on Medieval Animals and their rich heritage ‘afterlife’ in animal history and culture (think Fantastic Beasts and Pokemon but weirder!). Real and imaginary animals depicted in Kent’s medieval books, paintings and sculpture expressed their times’ sense of wonder in the natural world. Examples include the Rochester Bestiary, Faversham’s Painted Column and Minster’s 15th century misericords. St Anselm and other medieval scholars specifically sought to engage people's feelings by making animals the bearers of emotional meanings. We can reimagine their creativity in vital and fascinating ways to aid SEND children understand their emotions by teaching local green heritage.
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LECTURE 5 - Prof Carolyn Oulton | June 8

Dickens and the Dover Road: learning what you didn’t need to know.
When one of Dickens’s more eccentric characters in Little Dorrit proclaims for no obvious reason, ‘There’s mile-stones on the Dover road!’, the incongruity of the statement encourages us to disregard it. But the road between London and Kent features repeatedly in Dickens’s work. It is particularly significant for two adolescent characters, David Copperfield and Pip Pirrip, who know more than they feel they should about the adult world. In the nineteenth century, purity was routinely aligned with the feminine ideal. So why does Dickens associate these feelings of guilt with male characters – and what are they trying to tell us?
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LECTURE 6 - Dr Angela Pickard | June 22

Young, talented dancers in contemporary dance training: widening participation and fair access, rhetoric or reality?
Socio-economic disadvantage can be a significant barrier to accessing high-quality dance training for young, talented dancers. Government policy and strategy relating to widening participation and talent development in the UK are premised on raising aspirations and meritocracy. In this presentation, Pierre Bourdieu’s conceptual framework of field, capital and habitus is used to examine social variations, that can act as barriers to talent development in dance. Interviews with 33 talented, contemporary dancers attending a Centre of advanced Training programme, between the ages of 13–16 years, from a variety of backgrounds were undertaken. Findings suggest the dancers’ have experienced barriers to access, but also capital gain, symbolic exchange, and transformative potential.
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LECTURE 7 - Prof Berry Billingsley  | July 6

Combating misinformation in society: a framework incorporating epistemic insight to use in a range of educational settings
Why are some people more likely than others to be victims of misinformation and how can we protect ourselves and others in our community? We will report on work to develop a set of guidelines for use in a range of educational settings including school, college and higher education. The guidelines are being co-created by professionals and teachers via workshops for students that include, "who should we vaccinate first?" and "What should we do about climate change?" These and other complex real-world problems create opportunities to examine and compare some of the reasons why people disagree. This includes cases where a debate is around cherished values and cases where trickery is in use to persuade some victims that a false claim is true.

Professor Berry Billingsley is Professor of Science Education and Director of the LASAR Research Centre at Canterbury Christ Church University. Berry will be joined by colleagues in the Centre and research partners.
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LECTURE 8 - Emily Lau | September 28

Girls who learn to serve: a feminist ethnography exploring school-based volunteering
While educational research has identified how volunteering programmes can be co-opted into ideologically driven conceptualisations of citizenship, research has rarely explored the ways volunteering programmes can reproduce systemic and structural inequality.   In this study, a feminist lens and qualitative research from a year-long ethnography of six girls participating in a volunteering programme, within a UK ‘disadvantaged’ (DfE, 2015) secondary school, presented an uncomfortable reality. Rather than empowering the girl’s action and agency, coercion into school-based volunteering served to reproduce gendered inequalities that persist in schools (Reay, 2018) and across society.
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LECTURE 9 - Dr Alan Bainbridge | October 12

Eco-socialism and Learning to Live with the World
Learning to live with the world must not be confused with learning to live in, or even from the world. Raymond Williams also cautions that the convergence of ecological and social thinking must not be distracted by considering only physical appearances, reminding us to concentrate on the central social and economic questions. From an ecologically informed socialist perspective, Williams notes that it is the ‘whole effect that matters, and that uncontrolled commercial exploitation of land and animals, reckless of its effects on other people, is what has really to be focused’. This is a daunting task! With Williams as my guide, I shall step into the territory of interconnectedness to explore the precarious relationship of human endeavour on a planet with limited resources. Our journey will range between The Country and the City, rest a while in Border Country while also exploring from the very beginning of time the People of the Black Country.
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Last edited: 14/04/2021 07:28:00